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"This was the year we proved we didn't have to compromise to grow up," says founder David Droga when his agency added major accounts including American Express and Coke Zero. "The way we've tackled billion-dollar categories is the same." That is, scrappy and unconventional. The payoff? Big. Revenue grew 43%.

Challenge #1: Humanize a dusty brand
For Prudential, Droga5 launched an online documentary series called "Day One," which captured real people on their first day of retirement. "By providing a truthful picture of retirement, we reestablish credibility for the category," says strategy chief Jonny Bauer.

Challenge #2: Break through a crowded market
Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods) wanted its iD Gum to reach teens, "a promiscuous group of samplers," Droga says. The campaign "Kinda" embraced their style: 18 cross-platform games that were kinda like an art gallery and kinda like an arcade.

Challenge #3: Compete against a national holiday
To coincide with the English Premier League kickoff, Droga5 commissioned research for Puma to see which Newcastle United fans loved more--the team or their wife. The answer (wives!) scored a lot of press.